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DIY AC Compressor and Condenser/Drier replacement

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Old 04-07-10, 09:03 AM   #1
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Default DIY AC Compressor and Condenser/Drier replacement

DIY Second gen GS 400 AC compressor, condenser, drier replacement


For all of you guys that have a faulty AC system and are considering a DIY, this thread is for you. It is not from a service manual, but from my own experience.A proper diagnosis is definitely a good idea to look into before you decide to just throw in a new compressor. The AC system is a very delicate system in which one thing being broken can mess up the whole thing. If your car is not blowing cold air, there are a few reasons this may be happening.

1. Your AC system has a leak in which your Freon has leaked out.
2. Your compressor is faulty
3. Your AC is overfilled with Freon
4. You have moisture or air in your lines
5. Some other reasons, but I feel like the above are the most common.

The first thing I would do in the event of your AC not blowing cold would to obtain a set of gauges. You can get these from almost any auto parts store. I would go get an AC charge kit with a gauge on the r134a can and hook it up to the low side. Depending on the outside temperature, your PSI on the low side will vary. The ranges of where your pressure should be should be printed on the bottle. If the pressure is too low, then that means youre low on Freon or perhaps your compressor is gone. If your air from your vents in your car gradually warmed, then odds are that you’re low on Freon. Your system gets low on Freon when there is a leak in your system. Leaks usually occur due to faulty O-rings at junctions between AC parts or lines ( You can buy O-ring kits for our car at any auto part store or online). To troubleshoot this, the r134a (Freon ) kit you purchase and hook up to your low side should have a dye in it. Fill up your AC system with the Freon/dye combo on your low side. Then follow your lines from your compressor and find the leak. When you find the leak, evacuate your system, remove the O-ring and replace it with the new O-ring. (Make sure you coat the o-ring with PAG oil or compressor oil). If you do not coat the O-ring you run the risk of keeping that leak.

In the event your compressor is bad, it is advised to always replace your drier. Your drier in our second gen GS is connected to our condenser. That means we have to replace both. You can buy these online for about $150. If you do not replace your drier, then you run the risk of ruining your next compressor due to contaminates in the line. (Also, not replacing the drier will void the warranty on your new compressor). Keep in mind that your compressor fails for a reason. Whether its due to lack of oil, worn out, or whatever, the metal components in the compressor shave off and accumulate in the lines/drier and other parts on your AC system. I know from experience that if you do not replace your drier that it definitely can screw up your new compressor. A friend of mine replaced his compressor twice without replacing the drier and each time the new compressor failed within 2 weeks. That is enough for me to take the advice I was given and spend an extra $150 and do it right.

How do you know your compressor is bad?

Well, most commonly the clutch on the compressor will continuously engange and then disengange. You can tell whether or not the clutch is enganged by looking at the pully and determine whether just the pully is turning, or the mechanism within the pully, too. Your AC must be turned on in order to see this happen. Make sure its on full blast and as cold as you can turn the temp control. The compressor may also make a 'clicking' noise. If you can trace it back to the compressor, it may be the internal parts clicking due to failure or a high pressure/low pressure cut off switch that is used in order to save a compressor in suboptimal conditions. Finally, another reason of failure of the AC comp may be it overheating due to a fan failure. Many times the fan that cools the compressor located on the back side of the radiator burns out and will cause the comp to overheat.


________________________________________________________________

The first step to changing your comp/drier/condenser is to evacuate your system. I did this by hooking up a line to the high side port of my AC lines (located between the radiator and the bumper and marked with a cap that says ‘H’). Once you put the line on, it will release pressure and the Freon will go into the air as it is a gas at atmospheric pressure. Oil may come out, so make sure that it is aimed towards something that you don’t mind getting messy/dirty. Once your system is evacuated you may begin taking apart your system as stated below. *** wear eye wear and gloves bc it may cause frostbite/blindness****

Materials

Ratchet set with extensions
AC gauges (Shows high and low pressure and has an accessory hose)
AC flush kit (1 can was about $9 which is all I needed)
r134a (Auto parts store)
compressor oil (Lexus dealership $19)
compressor (Denso purchased new offline for $550)
drier/condenser ($150)
Air compressor (get an in line filter)
O-ring kit (can purchase online for gs400) I bought at advanced auto for $20

Condenser removal

1. Take off the air box and air intake duct. You do this by removing the one screw from the air duct, and three from the air box. You will need a long extension and I believe a 10mm deep socket. It wasnt necessary to disconnect the MAF. I just placed the box on the top of the engine cover to get it out of the way.
2. Remove the 2 mounting brackets on the top of the radiator. This should allow the top of the radiator to push towards the engine.
3. Remove the 2 bolts on the mounting bracket for the condenser.
4. Near the high side port and you will notice two lines going into the front of the condenser. Remove the two bolts and immediately cap the lines to avoid moisture or dirt from entering the lines.
5. Now your condenser is free and ready to be removed. To do this, push the radiator towards the engine and slide the condenser out.

Compressor removal

1. Jack up the car or drive it up on ramps. I simply jacked up my car on the driver’s side and had more than enough room. (dont forget to use jack stands) Remove drive belt (see diagram on the left side of the air box under the hood)
2. Remove the under engine cover. There were about 14 screws or so.
3. Disconnect the negative battery terminal
4. Unclip the silver plug form the compressor by pushing the button and separating.
5. There is another clip that holds the wire in place. Slide the wire off of the clip. (it may be hard to visualize, but you will see what it is when you get under the car) Its just a little bit down from the plug you just unclipped.
6. Find the lines going into the compressor, the high side and the low side.
Remove the nut on each of the lines and immediately cap the lines so no dirt or moisture enters the system.
7. Some people say you need to remove the oil filter, I personally didn’t and feel it would have been a complete waste of time. There are three bolts that hold the compressor on. One is above the oil filter and can be seen from the bottom of the car. You will need a ratchet and an extension to get it off. The second can also be accessed from the bottom of the car and is near the pully of the compressor. The third can be reached from the top. Once all three bolts are removed, drop the compressor between the radiator and the subframe. (it may be something else, but its the little black bar).

__________________________________________________________

Ok, At this point you should have no condenser or compressor in your car.

__________________________________________________________

Flushing the system.


It is important to flush the system to ensure that all the metal shavings or other debris are rid from the system. There is a reason for your compressor failing, so if you’re going to replace your comp, do it correctly.
1. Getting a AC flushing kit, flush the AC lines. (I placed the kit in the high pressure line and the low pressure line that were capped off from removal of the AC compressor. I pulled the lines up near the top of the radiator and put the flush in the line. I spent more on the high pressure line as it was longer.)
2. After you inject the flush into the line, blow it out with your air compressor. It took me about 25 minutes to get all of the solvent out of my line. Make sure to get it all out. I held my hand in front of the high pressure line (going into condenser... it will be the bottom line i believe... you will see the solvent going out of it when you blow the lines clear with the air compressor)
3. Next do the low pressure line and repeat step 2.
4. Remember to recap the lines after you flush them out.
_______________________________________________________

When you replace the condenser you need to add oil to it. The correct amount to add to your condenser is **40mLs**. Pour it into one of the holes and allow it to settle in. (Remember to keep the holes capped until you connect the lines)
Now replace the condenser by doing the reverse of the installation, but don’t forget to REPLACE THE O-RINGS on the lines. You will see the O- rings on the lines going into condenser (there is one on each) and there are also two more going into the AC compressor (one on each line). If you do not do this you may run the risk a leak and that’s just not fun, so do it right the first time. Don’t forget to coat the O-rings with compressor oil.

Now your condensor should be secured and lines should be connected back as well. You may go ahead and resecure the radiator by the mounting brackets.
You may also reinstall the air box and air duct by doing the reversing the installation directions above.

_________________________________________________________

1. Install new compressor (reverse of the removal directions)
2. Remove caps from the lines and replace the O-rings prior to reconnecting to the compressor. (Remember to coat them in oil)
3. Reconnect the lines to the compressor.
4. Reconnect the plug
5. Reconnect the negative battery terminal
6. Reinstall the under engine cover.
7. Reinstall drive belt ( there is a diagram on the left side of the air box that shows the correct placement of the belt)

________________________________________________________

Now you should have your car back together, all lines connected, and car reassembled.
Your compressor should come with oil in it, so make sure to ask before purchasing whether or not its present.
Now you will need your vacuum pump.


1. Hook up your gauges to the high pressure and low pressure ports. (low pressure is on your low pressure line located near the pully of the compressor)
2. Hook up the accessory line to your vacuum pump and pull a vacuum for at least 30 minutes, but I did 1 hour to be safe.
3. After vacuum is pulled, turn off vacuum pump and recheck the gauge in 15 minutes to make sure there was not a decrease in pressure. If there is a decrease, then you have a leak in your system. (If there was not a previous leak when you checked, then remove the lines and ensure everything is correct)
4. Now hook up your accessory line to your r134a supply and allow the line to fill with the gas. Slightly crack open the valve near the gauge until the line is filled. (this prevents air from going into your system)
5. On the high side valve on your gauges, release the valve and allow the Freon to flow into the system. When I did this, my PSI went up to 79 in the system.
6. Once my pressure stopped increasing, I closed the high pressure entry valve on my gauge. I then cranked up my car, turned on my AC, and felt the air. I added coolant based on temperature and my readings on my low side of my gauges. The guide I used on how much to add was based on the chart given to me on the r134a kit packaging. I added the remainder of the coolant on by opening my valve on my low side valve on my gauge cluster.
7. Once the pressure was achieved based on the outside temperature, you’re done!

I hope it helped. Don’t let the job scare you. I ended up doing it and thought it was much much easier than the timing belt replacement, suspension replacement… etc… It saved me overall $1500 from the estimate I was given.
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Last edited by dcz; 04-07-10 at 07:01 PM..
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Old 04-07-10, 12:23 PM   #2
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wow great writeup... it sucks how he drier is connected to the condensor...
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Old 04-08-10, 08:35 PM   #3
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good write up BUT this isn't really something someone with NO experience with HVAC should be trying. i say this because this can be potentially be a VERY dangerous/life threatening experience if they blow up a a/c can or have a leak that hits them in the face/hands etc. you can easily hurt yourself messing with freon if you dont know what your doing. i know of a guy who burned 80% of his face and lost a eye when a r22 valve broke and shot liquid into his face.

YES if u familiar with HVAC this is great but not something i recommend to a amateur DIY'er

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Originally Posted by kamlung View Post
wow great writeup... it sucks how he drier is connected to the condensor...
nah actually this is a decent idea as they should be changed together anyways. albeit oem or reputable parts should be higher than what he said.
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Old 04-09-10, 06:45 AM   #4
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Yeh, I would agree if you have only change like a light bulb or something, but Im no full time mechanic and i had no problem at all doing it. As long as your smart and wear the correct protection I dont see a problem. As long as the system is discharged properly and safely i dont really see a problem though. If nothing else. Take it to a shop and have it evacuated and then change the parts at your house. When you replaced all the parts, take it back and have them fill it up and check for leaks!
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Old 04-09-10, 08:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcz View Post
Yeh, I would agree if you have only change like a light bulb or something, but Im no full time mechanic and i had no problem at all doing it. As long as your smart and wear the correct protection I dont see a problem. As long as the system is discharged properly and safely i dont really see a problem though. If nothing else. Take it to a shop and have it evacuated and then change the parts at your house. When you replaced all the parts, take it back and have them fill it up and check for leaks!
lol, no but by your words you are some sort of a mechanic. as i said, freon CAN be very dangerous,just isnt something i would want some guy who knows NOTHING about HVAC trying something like this (just my $0.02) anyways im not knocking this, the DIY is a good write up (pics woulda been great for the visual learners lol) and good to see you got your issue resolved
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Old 09-08-10, 03:56 PM   #6
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I AM going to attempt this DIY. I am an average DIYer is this job something i could do? But i have a question. If i take it to a shop before i start working on it and have them evacuate all the coolant from the lines how safe is it for me to be working on the car? I mean is there still a chance of being burnt by leftover coolant? Then of course take it to the shop after and check for leaks and have it refilled.

I've compiled a list of parts that are needed to replace my compressor. If anybody has any tips/advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Compressor
http://www.techchoiceparts.com/ShowI...ompressor.aspx

O-Ring kit
http://www.techchoiceparts.com/ShowI...ing%20Kit.aspx

Expansion valve( Is this really needed??)
http://www.techchoiceparts.com/ShowI...n%20Valve.aspx

Oil
http://www.techchoiceparts.com/ShowI...ith%20Dye.aspx

AC condensor & Drier
http://www.techchoiceparts.com/ShowI...Condenser.aspx

I really dont want to pay a shop to do the labor because i think i am capable of replacing this myself. I Just dont want this to be dangerous or not do it properly and have the compressor go out again. Any insight is appreciated!
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Old 09-08-10, 06:18 PM   #7
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If it is evacuated there is zero chance of you being burnt by a gas (its more of frozen bc the gas is so cold). The system will have nothing left in it, so it wont be an issue. Its not a hard job to do at all and if youre not charging it or anything like that it is literally less than 14 bolts to change the condensor/drier and the compressor.
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Old 09-08-10, 08:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcz View Post
If it is evacuated there is zero chance of you being burnt by a gas (its more of frozen bc the gas is so cold). The system will have nothing left in it, so it wont be an issue. Its not a hard job to do at all and if youre not charging it or anything like that it is literally less than 14 bolts to change the condensor/drier and the compressor.
Okay perfect. I appreciate the reply! Im going to take it to a shop and have them evacuate the lines then going to do the swap then bring it back and have them recharge the lines.

Should i flush the lines before i take it to the shop for the recharge or just have them do the flush and vacuum there? Thanks again.
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Old 10-03-10, 11:21 PM   #9
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Where did you buy your new Denso compressor from dcz? I can't find anywhere that sells them with the clutch assembly for $550. Thanks for the help!!
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Old 10-04-10, 05:07 AM   #10
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This is awesome and very timely for me. My compressor started making some terrible noise so I am replacing it and doing my 90K. For those looking for one for a good price its tough to find. options seem to be slim and expensive, the dealer price is insane. I really wanted to go with a denso part but had no issue with a reman piece with a warranty.

Check this out:

GS400-Denso Compressor

Super Class Remanufactured Compressor with Clutch 471-0281 471-0281 $424.43


Whats better is although you buy this thru denso is reroutes you to sparkplugs.com and you can use an online coupon code. YTECH10 THIS GETS YOU 10% OFF, so about $380!!!

They were out of stock and it took about 2 weeks to come but I just got it and its a beautiful piece in a nice pretty denso box. Awesome deal.

http://www.densoproducts.com/results...umber=471-0281


OP, looking forward to using your DIY here, thanks alot for providing.
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Old 10-04-10, 11:30 AM   #11
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The only thing wrong with remanufactured compressors is that sometimes they dont work properly again. They can't build enough pressure and dont really blow really cold air. Thats why i want to buy new oem just in case. I'd rather do it right once!
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Old 10-04-10, 03:47 PM   #12
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I ordered mine from this link:
http://www.carpartswarehouse.com/add.../60-01710.html

Looks like it went up to 595, but I orginally ordered the REMAN, but they were out so I think they gave me the other for 550.
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Old 10-04-10, 03:48 PM   #13
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by the way, they were shipped fast and had good results from them... Ill definitely do business with them again! After I placed my order for the REMAN, they called me within 15 minutes to tell me they were out and gave me a discount on the new one... Ive used my AC and had it blasting for months now and I have no issues at all.
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Old 10-04-10, 05:18 PM   #14
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ive always thought the AC stuff were a pain to replace.. after reading the DIY it doesnt seam to bad as long as you take your time and be careful with the high pressure gas stuff (ie... have it evac'ed first before doing anything).

Thanks again for the DIY! it will greatly help other 2gs owners since our car's AC will die out soon lol...
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Old 10-04-10, 05:35 PM   #15
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Great addition to the site! Subscribed
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